Saturday, June 19, 2021

A Speakeasy Soirée Gala Celebrating 27 Years of Artistic Excellence, Education and Community Outreach

City Ballet Gala
Rita Steel, Chuck Steel, Lauren Steel and Rick Scatena and City Ballet Dancers
Image: Lauren Radack, Courtesy of City Ballet

City Ballet’s Trustees Barbie and Dan Spinazzola served as Honorary Chairs for City Ballet of San Diego’s annual fundraising Gala on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at the Hotel del Coronado, City Ballet’s Season Sponsor. The beautiful new Vista Walk was the location for the festive reception, hosted by the Del.  The evening began with eager guests posing in and around the magnificent vintage Packard owned by City Ballet patron and Coronado resident Chuck Steel. Dancers in silver and gold flapper dresses strolled through the reception, and posed for photos with delighted guests. Guests had the opportunity to win a pair of spectacular 18K white gold, onyx, pearl, and diamond earrings designed by John Matty especially for the Gala valued at $10,000. Directors Steven and Elizabeth Wistrich oversaw a fabulous evening filled with music, memorable dance moments, delicious food, wine and fundraising.

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City Ballet Gala
City Ballet Board of Directors
Image: Lauren Radack, Courtesy of City Ballet

Guests were surprised and delighted to see City Ballet dancers perform a lively foxtrot/ballet to the music of Somewhere Beyond the Sea, performed at the top of the stairs ushering in dinner and the rest of the evening’s events. As guests entered the Ballroom, The Mighty Untouchables unleashed their amazing musical talent and guests enjoyed dinner created especially for the event by Master Chef Patrick Ponsaty. First course, was a refreshing California Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad with Pine Nuts, followed by entrée choices of Seared Beef Tenderloin, Seared Salmon Steak or Fresh Ricotta Gundis, closing with a delectable Dark Chocolate Mousse with Passion Cremeux and Mango Foam dessert. Tables were decorated in a 1920s theme with champagne bottles and martini glasses dripping with ‘pearls’. City Ballet dancers took the stage to perform a high-energy Charleston number which wowed the audience and Resident Choreographer Geoff Gonzalez introduced the upcoming 2019-2020 Season.

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Master Auctioneer and MC Darren Diess recognized the many sponsors, underwriters and donors who helped make the evening possible. He then launched into the night of ‘fun’ fundraising beginning with bidding for several live auction items including a trip to Oahu where the winner will enjoy a week in a private home in Ke Ili Beach and airfare courtesy of Delta Airlines. Another lucky winner won four tickets to a Golden State Warriors game which included a wine tour for four in Napa and a two-night stay at San Francisco’s Hotel Griffon.

A very special and touching moment in the evening came when Honorary Chairs Barbie and Dan Spinazzola were presented with a surprise from City Ballet. As a thank you to the many years of support from Barbie and Dan, the company announced that a special show of Beauty and the Beast will be performed in their honor at Noah Homes, a residential facility for adults with disabilities that is close to the hearts of Barbie and Dan. A short video was shown of Noah Homes’ residents thanking Barbie and Dan for their support and giving their love. Tears were seen in the eyes of many gala guests.

The 250 guests opened their hearts and wallets after seeing an inspiring video depicting the many education and outreach programs City Ballet offers as well as excerpts of City Ballet performances in their home theatre, the historic Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego.  The event raised over $250,000!  Proceeds from this event will ensure that City Ballet of San Diego continues to present ballet performances and Education and Outreach Programs to over 20,000 children and patrons annually.

The Mighty Untouchables had guests on their feet for the rest of the evening as they performed and guests danced the night away.  This was a glorious gala to embark on a memorable 27th Anniversary for City Ballet of San Diego.

Proceeds from ~ A Speakeasy Soirée Gala ~ benefit City Ballet’s productions and City Ballet’s Education and Outreach Programs including:

  • Discover a Dancer offers free year-round ballet instruction for disadvantaged children and youth at risk.
  • Ballet Goes to School offers a complete ballet education package for school children, including in-theater experiences and school assemblies.
  • Summer Intensive is an annual 3-week summer program offering career-track dancers the opportunity to study with some of the finest ballet instructors assembled on the West Coast.
  • Outreach Program is specifically designed to make ballet accessible to all persons in San Diego County with free and low-cost concerts throughout the county.
  • Mainstage Productions presented during the 2019-20 Season, accompanied by the City Ballet Orchestra at Spreckels Theatre, include – Carmina Burana – The Nutcracker – Balanchine and More – Romeo and Juliet, plus the Family Ballet Saturdays Series.

The critically acclaimed company, under the direction of Steven and Elizabeth Wistrich, both former Boston Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet dancers, is best known for its commitment to presenting ballets by the legendary George Balanchine. This season the company continues that commitment by offering George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht Ballet and Who Cares? “We are honored that the prestigious George Balanchine Trust in New York City continues to grant us permission to present works by this legendary choreographer,” said Wistrich. All performances are presented at the historic Spreckels Theatre, downtown San Diego and accompanied by The City Ballet Orchestra with John Nettles conducting.

Carmina Burana – by Geoff Gonzalez to Carl Orff’s powerful score, back by popular demand, and Elizabeth Wistrich’s Straw Feet. November 1-3, 2019

The Nutcracker – an all-time holiday favorite offering twelve performances. December 6-22, 2019

Balanchine and More Walpurgisnacht Ballet and Who Cares? by George Balanchine.  Also included Hallelujah Junction by Peter Martins and Le Cosaire Pas de Deux with choreography after Marius Petipa. March 6-8, 2020

Romeo and Juliet – Choreographed by Elizabeth Wistrich and Geoff Gonzalez, Music by Sergei Prokofiev. May 8-10, 2020


All ballet performances are at Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway, downtown San Diego.

Tickets range from $25 – $92

For tickets to ballet performances, call City Ballet (858) 272-8663 or on-line at

Heralded as “a top-tier dance company” and “an oasis of classical dance in a city otherwise too often a desert”, City Ballet is San Diego’s world-class professional ballet company, now celebrating its 27th season under the direction of former Boston Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet dancers, Steven and Elizabeth Wistrich. City Ballet is a non-profit organization committed to furthering the ballet art form. The company produces classic and contemporary ballet programs that critics rave as “polished, eye-catching and delightful,” and “highly entertaining and professional”. International dance critic Sheila Orysiek wrote, “San Diego finally has a classical ballet company that is worthy of the name”. The company is best known for performing works by George Balanchine. City Ballet is one of a few ballet companies to receive permission from The George Balanchine Trust in New York City to perform works of George Balanchine. The Balanchine Trust grants such permission only to those ballet companies it judges artistically competent to perform Balanchine’s masterworks.
Unsurpassed training programs for children and pre-professionals are offered at City Ballet School, the official school for the City Ballet Company, whose alumnae dance with companies including American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburg Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Texas Ballet Theatre and The Joffrey Ballet. City Ballet’s innovative education programs range from arts outreach to inner-city children, to bringing the world’s best ballet instructors to San Diego. City Ballet is partially funded by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, Qualcomm, Hotel del Coronado, US Bank, Mandell Weiss Charitable Trust, Robert Half International and generous patrons.

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Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.” Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to:
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